Nbi Ceremony at Niagara

niagara nbi

I’m trying to find the words to describe my recent experience at Niagara Falls. Blessing is kind of cliche.

Traveling for business, I hadn’t intended a visit because  – ya know, business travel. But a window of opportunity presented and it felt foolish to not visit.

I was completely taken back by how beautiful and powerful nbi is in that territory. Flying into the region, I began to realize that I would be walking the land of my ancestors -the Anishinaabe, Ojibwe, Chippewa people, whose DNA and blood I carry into this world. At the park, I felt completely at home. Even though I had forgotten my Nbi medicine necklace at the hotel, I made sure to take the time to sing the Nbi song (as taught to me by my niijii-kwe, Tina) to our relative and to try to re-establish the relationship.

I have recently been able to dive deeply into Greg Cajete’s “Native Science” and his words have helped me make huge strides in growth as Anishinaabe-kwe. I still have a ton to process but I feel compelled to write some thoughts before the 8th of August, which is when we go into some pretty powerful times, astrologically. I have been feeling a lot of difficult emotions around what is happening in the world right now. Because I have been able to find some solace and respite in unexpected places, and I’m grateful for the serendipitous nature of the universe, this post is my attempt to push forward the blessing (even though I know I have maybe 10 readers – love to you all!)

I write/talk a lot about reciprocal relationship with our more-than-human relatives, but I have been missing some very key points about this topic, which I couldn’t quite pinpoint. Reading Greg Cajete’s book helped me to be much clearer about this topic.

The first realization – the reciprocal relationship won’t be successfully healed until we acknowledge/become aware of the compact that real human beings have made with our more-than-human relatives.

What is a compact?  An agreement, a treaty, between sovereigns. The way I understand it, there is a compact between real human beings and our more-than-human-relatives –  an agreement whereby our more-than-human relatives will provide for us and we, the real human beings, will honor, respect and reciprocate that relationship in the best way possible. Our ancestors have promised to use ceremony to give thanks and to honor our relatives; they have promised that we will never take more than we need and we will not take without giving something back; they have promised these things, with the understanding and affirmation that the cycle of life requires sacrifice at some point in time. I fully acknowledge that I am Anishinaabe-kwe without formal teachings. I know my place and I also know that there is an innate and strong knowing which flows through my veins, comprises my cells and informs my understanding.

I now  realize that when I speak to my relatives using their Anishinaabe names, I am reminding both parties of this compact – the commitment that we have made to each other. In order for the reciprocal relationship to be meaningful and effective, I have to acknowledge this compact and accept my responsibility to honor and uphold my part, as Anishinaabe-kwe.

Making the time to pray and offer my thanks to Nbi, in this territory, is an experience I will never forget. No longer will I take for granted the chance to speak the words and to send the prayers. I am fully committed to my responsibility, with deep gratitude for all the love that our more-than-human relatives have showed to us. I humbly ask for my ancestors to show me the way to proper ceremony.

We owe such a deep debt to our more-than-human relatives. We must make sure that our human relatives who are ignorant and unaware of this debt are made aware – we can’t continue to take without giving something back. We have to stop being chronic takers.  At the very least, we owe a prayer every time we extract something. Every time we pull nbi into our lives, we must offer a prayer of gratitude and acknowledge our responsibility for creating a good life for nbi.

More to come. I have so much to share about this book. We have an opportunity to correct our bad behaviors and to make a good path for the real human beings who have yet to be born….we have work to do and hearts to change.

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Twylia (the 'i' is silent)

~ I am Anishinaabe-kwe with Scottish heritage and Sami DNA. I speak on the behalf of no one but myself. My ancestors inform and guide me. My voice is but one of many who are calling for change. We have much work to do to create a good space for the real human beings who are waiting to be born.

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